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“Dude, Where’s My Device?” - M2M Troubleshooting Made Easy

Posted by Matt Davis on 08/04/2011
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Connected devices are re-inventing industries by enabling remote sensors to communicate wirelessly from virtually anywhere. Occasionally, these connected or machine-to-machine (M2M) devices seem to disappear from the network, leaving the user to ponder: Dude, where's my device?

Troubleshooting assumptions might lead one to believe that there is a problem with the device or the modem or even that the SIM card may have gone bad, those are rarely the culprits. In some cases, the device may be temporarily unable to connect with the network because the signal is being obscured by walls or structures or even mountains that have a heavy concentration of iron ore. For example, elevators are notoriously difficult spots for wireless signals. But these problems are easily corrected, when the device moves back into the coverage area and automatically re-acquires the network.

However, there are several other issues that can come into play, causing a device to require troubleshooting. In many cases, simply powering the device off for three to four minutes, then powering it back on can solve the issue. As with home computers and other electronic devices, rebooting allows the M2M device a fresh start with a new data session and that cures the problem. In the wireless device scenario, leaving the device off for a few minutes, enables the network with time to release the IP address then reissue it, which can resolve several issues in both the device and the network.

Sometimes, the power itself is the issue. If the device receives current from an AC outlet, check to see if the plug has become disconnected or if the building has lost power. This can be the case with vending machines, ATMs and devices found in (or outside of) retail stores. If it's a remote device, such as a moisture sensor in an agricultural setting, it's possible that it's time to replace the battery.

Does the troublesome device have a static IP address? If so, it will be much easier to ping and troubleshoot that device than those employing sensors that work with dynamic IP addresses that change each time they're reset.

Devices sometimes lose contact with the network when switching from one carrier's coverage area to another. This is most common when cargo crosses borders in transit. In most cases, the device will only go "dark" for a brief period of time as it scans and connects to the new carrier's signal.

By using an integrated, business and device management portal, troubleshooting devices becomes much easier. Devices can be located rapidly, and even activated or deactivated in a matter of minutes. An M2M portal also enables organizations to manage field inventory and trouble tickets as well as wireless data plans.

While devices can sometimes go missing, it's generally a rare occurrence. If you have a device that stops responding, keep in mind that most issues are quickly resolved without requiring in-person maintenance, and you can greatly reduce or eliminate those panicked "where is my device" moments too.

By Danny Thomas, VP Operations

Danny has over 23 years of experience in the wireless and telecommunications industry working in Asia, North America, and the U.K. He joined KORE in 2009 and was instrumental in driving the implementation of our state-of-the-art, fully redundant network architecture. Danny joined KORE after 14 years with AT&T Mobility as the Sr. Director of National Wireless Data Operations, where he worked on several state-of-the-art wireless projects including the launch of the first 2G, 2.5G, and 3G networks and the launch of the Apple I-Phone.